The TinCaps suffered an undeniable setback in the zany, tightly bunched playoff race in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division.
Manager Michael Collins hopes it is a bump in the road being paved by his team’s dog-days-of-summer surge.
Fort Wayne (52-66, 22-27 second half) dropped three of four in a series with Lake County, giving up 36 runs in four games, capped by a 12-6 stinker Sunday afternoon at Parkview Field.
While the TinCaps lost ground, they still have plenty to play for – and time.
Six clubs are fighting for two available postseason berths, and all are within three games of each other.
The TinCaps sit 2 1/2 back of Lake County for the second-half division playoff spot and two back of Dayton and Great Lakes, which are tied for the wild card entering today’s leaguewide off day.
I’m pretty aware of where we are and who we play and all of the rest of the things that go into it, Collins said. The good thing for us is we play all the teams we’re competing against, so we don’t have to worry about what other teams do. We control our own fate.
Fort Wayne rebounded from a franchise-record 13-game losing streak to make it this far.
The TinCaps went 10-3 over a 13-game stretch coming into the Lake County series, then mounted a thrilling, eight-run comeback in the opener against the Captains.
That momentum stopped cold, though, and the TinCaps can only hope there is drama left in spite of some troubling signs.
Even great pitchers have bad games, but Jeffery Enloe has looked mediocre in two of his past three outings.
On Sunday, the Captains got to him for eight hits and five runs, although one of those scored on a fielder’s error, in four innings.
Two starts before that one, at Great Lakes, he allowed four runs and six hits in five innings
While there’s no need for panic, Fort Wayne needs Enloe to keep pitching like the top-of-the-rotation starter he has been and nothing less.
Because Enloe’s fastball is hittable, command is critical to his style of pitching, and that is what Collins thought was missing Sunday.
He looked a little up in the zone, Collins said. He did make a bunch of great pitches but probably not enough of them. His game is going to be throwing good, quality strikes consistently and changing speeds. Just wasn’t quite as effective as he has been.
Lake County (51-67, 24-24) hit four doubles against Enloe, and seven of the Captains’ 15 hits overall went for extra bases. Offensively, we really had an outburst in this series, Captains manager Mark Budzinski said. We’ve struggled on the road most of this year, so it’s great.
The Captains are 8-5 against Fort Wayne with six games remaining in the season series. The teams meet again at Parkview Field beginning Friday and then in Eastlake, Ohio, Aug. 21-23.
We see them again, Collins said. That’s the great thing.